Thanks to all of the amazing women who shared their time and insights with us at the inaugural FAB. Check out the FAB women of 2017.
Alice Cheng is the Founder & CEO of Culinary Agents, a professional networking and job matching website designed for current and aspiring professionals in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry. Having spent years working in a restaurant and then moving on to work for IBM for 13 years in cross-industry innovation, Alice brings her knowledge of technology into the food and beverage industry to solve inefficiencies and gaps around talent sourcing and career development. Alice is a deeply experienced business, marketing and sales professional who is passionate about helping people build careers. She takes leadership roles in mentoring all levels of talent in the technology, business and hospitality spaces.
Amanda Kludt is the Editor in Chief of Eater, a publication covering the ins and outs of dining and food in America and around the world. Through original reporting, longform journalism, maps and guides, reviews, and video Eater informs its audience on the latest news, tells them where to eat and drink, and highlights important issues facing the world of restaurants. Before Eater, Kludt worked at Gridskipper and Metro. She has contributed to Lucky Peach, Cherry Bombe, The Guardian, and others.
Angie Mosier is a food writer, stylist and photographer using a journalist's approach and a culinary background. Angie's work has taken her to places near and far and she has collaborated with farmers, barbecue pitmasters, fashion designers, master sommeliers and world famous chefs. Her work has been published in Food and Wine, Garden and Gun, The Local Palate, the New York Times, The Washington Post and her essays on Southern food are a part of the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. She has co-authored cookbooks with Chef Jose Santaella and Chef Eric Ripert. Cookbook photography is a passion for Angie and she has photographed books for John Currence, Virginia Willis, Kevin Gillespie, Carey Morey, Cheryl and Griffith Day, The American Cancer Society, John T. Edge and Eric Ripert. Angie has worked as a stylist on cookbooks by Sean Brock, Vivian Howard and Virginia Willis.
In addition to being a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and The James Beard Foundation, Angie is a proud member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and is pleased to have served as a past president of their Board of Directors. Angie lives in, and is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Atlanta History Center.
James Beard Award-winner and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Barbara Lynch is regarded as one of Boston’s—and the country’s—leading chefs and restaurateurs. A South Boston native, she got her first job cooking at a local rectory at 13. Her high school teacher and a job working with Chef Mario Bonello at Boston’s esteemed St. Botolph Club inspired her to become a professional chef.
During her early twenties, she traveled to Italy where she learned about the cuisine firsthand from local women. In 1998, Barbara opened her first restaurant, No. 9 Park, in Boston’s Beacon Hill. Food & Wine named it “Best New Restaurant.” Barbara opened two more restaurants in 2003: B&G Oysters, serving oysters and New England classics, and The Butcher Shop, a wine bar and full-service butcher shop. In 2007, she opened Stir, a demonstration kitchen and cookbook store. In 2008, Barbara launched two more concepts: Drink, a bar dedicated to the craft of the cocktail, and Sportello, a modern interpretation of a diner. In 2010, Barbara and her team opened Menton, a fine dining restaurant that received praise from Bon Appétit and Esquire as one of the best new restaurants and a James Beard Foundation Award nomination for Best New Restaurant. Menton is the only Relais & Châteaux property in Boston, and Barbara is currently the only female in the US to hold the title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux. In 2003, The James Beard Foundation named her “Best Chef Northeast.”
In 2013, she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America and received an honorary doctorate from Northeastern University in recognition of her culinary and philanthropic contributions. In 2014, she received her second James Beard Foundation Award for “Outstanding Restaurateur.” She is the second woman ever to receive this honor. She published her first cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, in 2009. Her second book, a memoir, will be published in 2017.
Camilla Marcus is the co-founder of TechTable, a hospitality technology thought leadership platform, an active angel investor, and a partner of Pound for Pound Consulting. She brings a broad base of experience across business development, hospitality ideation, culinary operations, and real estate. Previously, she was the Director of Business Development for Union Square Hospitality Group, the family of hospitality ventures founded by Danny Meyer. She has also worked in real estate investing for Colony Capital and CIM Group and in development and operations with various NYC restaurants, including dell’anima with Epicurean Management and Riverpark with Crafted Hospitality. She received a JD/MBA from New York University, an AA from the International Culinary Center, and a BS from The Wharton School. She is also a mentor in residence for TechStars New York and a board member for Wellness in the Schools in New York City.
Carolyn is the co-chair of Fox Rothschild’s Hospitality Practice. Her practice largely consists of representing and counseling employers in the hospitality industry, specifically restaurants, hotels, caterers, nightlife venues and fitness centers. Carolyn has extensive experience litigating wage and hour class actions, restrictive covenants and employment discrimination cases and regularly counsels clients in workplace issues. Widely considered among New York’s leading hospitality attorneys, she was honored as one of Crain’s Forty under 40 Class of 2009, and is frequently quoted throughout the press. Carolyn was previously General Counsel to BR Guest Restaurants & James Hotels and earned her B.S. degree from Cornell University where she has been appointed to the ILR Dean’s Advisory Council and the Advisory Board for the Center for Hospitality Research at the School of Hotel Administration. She is also a member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women and sits on the Board of Editorial Advisors for Hospitality Law. In addition to all of the above, Carolyn serves as employment counsel to the New York City Hospitality Alliance.
Baker, owner, author, incubator operator, and mentor Carrie Morey founded Callie’s Charleston Biscuits in 2005 with the goal of making her mother’s tender, buttery, handmade biscuits available to people across the country. Touted by Saveur, Food & Wine, Southern Living, The New York Times and Oprah among others, Carrie and her small team of bakers keep the tradition of Southern biscuit making alive. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit – grab-and-go biscuit eateries are Carrie’s latest tasty endeavor with locations in Charleston and Atlanta. She’s the author of Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions, a cookbook and narrative on entrepreneurship and life in the Lowcountry. Morey has appeared live on the NBC Today Show, The Martha Stewart Show, Fox & Friends, and QVC and has been twice profiled by The Food Network’s hit television show Unwrapped. Her handmade biscuits, pimento cheeses and other artisan goods have garnered 15 sofi awards (4 gold and 11 silver) from the Specialty Foods Association.
Dana Cowin, Creative Director at Chefs Club International, oversees culinary curation and visiting chef events for this innovative restaurant group with locations in Aspen and New York City. She advances Chefs Clubs’ mission of showcasing (on the restaurant’s daily menu) the most memorable and relevant dishes from the best chefs around the country and the world. Prior to Chefs Club, Cowin was Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine for over 20years, where she was responsible for all aspects of the award-winning brand, including the print magazine, website, social media and books. In 2012, Cowin was inducted into the prestigious James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America. She serves on the board of City Harvest, a New York hunger-relief organization; Hot Bread Kitchen, which helps train and support foreign-born and low-income individuals to work in food service; and The Allen-Stevenson School, in Manhattan. Cowin is the author of Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes (Ecco Press, 2014), recognized by many publications as one of the best cookbooks of the year.
As Copy Director and the loudest laugher at Blue Ion, a digital branding agency in Charleston, SC, Jenny writes all of the things – from website copy and advertising to brand manifestos and video scripts. She works alongside a talented team of programmers, publicists, strategists, designers, photographers, and beer drinkers.
Born and bred in New Jersey (exit number upon request), she knows how to procure a great bagel, a delicious slice, and the locations of at least three late night diners. She currently works and resides in Charleston, South Carolina, home to lilting accents, delicious food, and humidity that’s akin to being wrapped in a hot, wet blanket. Luckily, there’s bourbon and sweet tea.
A published poet, Jenny has also written for and collaborated with an array of graphic designers, web experts, marketers, filmmakers, and characters. She believes that people, nature, and experiences are almost always richer than words can adequately capture. But she never stops trying.
Elizabeth Meltz is the Director of Environmental Health at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group (B&BHG). After graduating from Vassar College with a degree in Art History, Meltz enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Stints at restaurants in New York and Rome lead Meltz to the kitchen team at Del Posto — B&BHG’s decorated four-star Manhattan restaurant — where she quickly rose through the ranks from Banquet Chef to Director of Kitchen Operations. In 2009, Meltz recognized an opportunity for restaurants to better the sustainability practices in their kitchens and dining rooms and was appointed B&BHG’s Director of Food Safety and Sustainability. Meltz now oversees a comprehensive health and food safety program: green initiatives including Green Restaurant Association certification, a corporate no-bottled-water policy and consults with the business development and restaurant design teams on sustainable business practices and ideals. In the past year, Meltz’s work has been recognized by Fast Company, Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN Eatocracy, and National Geographic Magazine.
Helen was born in New York City. She started working in restaurants in Madison, WI while she was finishing college. She worked at a place called L’Etoile and the fine dining and farm to table driven experience inspired her to follow her dreams of working in the food and wine industry. She moved to Los Angeles and worked at Craft as a manager for two years before signing on with Jon and Vinny in July of 2009. She is a partner at Jon & Vinny’s in Los Angeles, which also houses her wine shop called helen’s. helen’s is a thriving, curated shop that hosts classes, has a wine club and is an overall gem box. She also oversees the beverage programs for the other restaurants in the group: animal, Son of a Gun, Petit Trois, Trois familia & Trois mec.
What started as a quiet bonding activity with Dashtaki family and the Zoroastrian immigrant community in Southern California, has turned into an advocacy effort in small food production and “wasted food”. After three months of business in California, The White Moustache was asked to shut down or receive a $10,000 fine and jail time. Though wildly fond of jumpsuits, Ms. Dashtaki fought the law for two years to acquire permission to make her traditional family recipe. The law won. Bouncing the world over, from Portland to Tanzania, White Moustache found a home in Brooklyn. Now, White Moustache sees its very existence as both a miracle and a platform for reform.
Mississippi-born Jennifer V. Cole is a writer and editor based in Birmingham, Alabama. After graduating with honors from Auburn University with a triple major in Economics, French, and German, she made her way to New York where she worked at TIME magazine and as an editor for Travel + Leisure. She has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden elephant-back through the jungles of Thailand, and sailed on gulets over the Aegean Sea. She’s generally made it her mission to eat her way around the world, and she’ll try anything once. She was Deputy Editor of Southern Living, where she covered the South for nearly a decade. She regularly contributes to publications such as Garden & Gun, Modern Farmer, Coastal Living, Fast Company, Punch, and more. She recently helped launch Bake From Scratch.
Cole is a biscuit-loving member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. She’s been named an Arkansas Traveler by the Governor and Secretary of State of Arkansas. She regularly speaks at events such as Food Media South, BevCon, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, and the Southern Food Writing Conference.
She was the founding editor and producer of the Southern Living "Biscuits & Jam" video and concert music series. She sits on the junior board for Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama. Her work has been recognized by min, Folio, and the Society of American Travel Writers. Cole speaks French, German, and Italian—and enough Dutch to get in trouble. She takes her bourbon neat.
In her role as co-founder of Staplehouse Restaurant, Jennifer Hidinger orchestrates the development and execution of all aspects of the restaurant including the design, operational features and all business management. As co-founder and spokesperson for The Giving Kitchen Initiative (TGK), Hidinger advises on brand awareness and community involvement while providing a personal account in telling the story of TGon a local and national platform.
Kat Kinsman is the author of Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves. She’s the senior food and drinks editor at Time Inc.’s Extra Crispy, former editor at large and editor in chief of Tasting Table, founding editor of CNN’s Eatocracy and former editor and writer for CNN Living. She’s a frequent public speaker and on-air commentator on the topics of food, drinks and mental health, and started the website chefswithissues.com to provide resources for restaurant workers in crisis.
Karalee Fallert has been the driving force behind many of the Charleston’s most popular restaurants since 2001. A California native, her culinary education began at Utah Valley University. After studying culinary arts and visual merchandising, she headed east to pursue her business dreams. A road trip down Highway 17 brought her to Charleston in 2000. In 2005, she co-founded Raval, a tapas bar. From there, she conceptualized and opened: Monza in 2007; Taco Boy/Folly Beach in 2006; Taco Boy downtown in 2009; Closed for Business in 2009; The Royal American in 2011, and Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen, and The Park Cafe, in 2014.
Karalee is also a long-time community advocate. She co-founded The Green Heart Project in 2009, a small school garden at Mitchell Elementary School in downtown Charleston, with the intention of reconnecting students to fresh, locally grown produce. The garden projects have since grown to seven other schools across the Charleston area and all of her restaurants source vegetables from them. Southern Living magazine recently named her one the South’s “most beautiful women” for her contributions to The Green Heart Project. Karalee’s currently planning her next restaurant concept in the Charleston area. When time allows, she and her husband also work on the development of their farm on Edisto Island, SC.
Leslie is currently the Vice President of Human Resources for Momofuku & Milk Bar reporting directly to world renowned chefs; David Chang & Christina Tosi. She began her hospitality career with Hilton Hotels Corporation in their management development program. Recruited from Johnson & Wales University, she worked in HR leadership roles for the Capitol Hilton, McLean Hilton, Fontainebleau, Rye Town & Pittsburgh Hilton Hotels. With Loews Corporation, she was on the opening teams for the Loews House of Blues, the Loews Miami Beach and the Loews Porto Fino Bay Hotel in Universal Studios. She has served as Corporate Director of HR for Linens n Things, as well as, VP of HR for both ABC Carpet & Home and Aerosoles shoes. Leslie was the founding HR leader for TxVia, a high tech start up, which sold to Google. At Atlantic Coast Media Group, Leslie was the VP of Talent Acquisition & Development where she was nominated as one of New Jersey’s top women in business. That same year, ACMG won fastest growing company in NJ.
As the Head of HR for Le Pain Quotidien, she opened 15 new restaurants and was responsible for 3500 employees in 90 restaurants over 8 states. During this time, Leslie served on the Board of Directors for Liberty Humane Society turning around a failing animal shelter into a model for other urban rescue operations. Leslie was recently featured in her alma mater’s “Success Issue,” dedicated to twelve distinguished graduates who have excelled in their chosen careers. She was also recently nominated to the Hall of Fame for the World Association of Cooperative Education.
Chef Maneet Chauhan is the executive chef and co-owner of Chauhan Ale & Masala House and co-owner of Mantra Artisan Ales in Nashville. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Chef Chauhan worked in some of India’s finest hotels before the start of her career in the States. She was executive chef for Vermilion in Chicago, named Best New Restaurant by Chicago magazine, Restaurant of the Month by Esquire and Best New Restaurant by Wine Enthusiast under her leadership. Upon opening the Vermilion in Manhattan, Chef Chauhan was nominated for Best Import to New York by Time Out magazine. A winner of the 2012 James Beard Foundation Broadcast Media Award for her role as a judge on food Network’s “Chopped,” she sits on its permanent panel of judges. Author of the cookbook, Flavors of My World, she also owns and opened her first venture, Chauhan Ale & Masala House, in 2014, followed by the 2015 opening of Mantra Artisan Ales. Two new restaurant concepts are forthcoming in Nashville in 2016. Chef Chauhan has been featured in publications such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, The Local Palate, Wine Enthusiast, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Post, Times of India, The Telegraph and more. Television appearances include “The View” (ABC), “CBS This Morning’s The Dish” (CBS), “Designing Spaces” (Lifetime), “Iron Chef” and “Next Iron Chef” (Food Network). India native, self-proclaimed “Nash-Yorker,” Chef Chauhan is also a passionate advocate for the March of Dimes, and now lives in Franklin, Tenn., with her husband, Vivek, their daughter, Shagun and son, Karma.
Marie Petulla is the owner of Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in downtown Los Angeles' Grand Central Market, as well as the award-winning Union in Pasadena. After living and traveling across Europe, the Chicago native got her start in hospitality management in 2001, with Nicole Parthemore and Dana Hechtman at She She in Chicago. After four successful years there, Marie moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as the GM of Firefly in Studio City. In 2014, she partnered with Bruce Kalman to open Union, an intimate 50-seat restaurant known for Northern Italian cuisine that showcases fresh, California ingredients. Marie’s sophomore project, Knead & Co., is a market-driven ode to classic Italian American favorites served in the bustling, accessible atmosphere of a downtown LA landmark. With nearly 15 years of front-of-house experience, Marie prides herself in delivering personalized service to every guest, fostering a family atmosphere among her team, and always serving incredible meals.
Maureen applies over 15 years of information technology experience as USHG’s Vice President of Technology and Processes. She is also one of the founders of TechTable. Prior to joining USHG in 2013, Maureen gained diverse technology management experience in a range of industries, including fashion, retail, and food. She spent six years in IT leadership at FAO Schwarz, followed by two years at the renowned specialty grocery and wine shop, Dean & Deluca. Directly prior to joining the team at USHG, Maureen spent seven years as the Director of Technology for the national luxury retailer, Intermix, where she helped the company scale its technology solutions for sustainable growth. At USHG, Maureen applies her knowledge of operations and technology to create tools and efficiencies throughout the USHG family of award-winning businesses. Maureen is a graduate of Adelphi University.
Molly Hughes Cherry is a member in the Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina offices of Nexsen Pruet, LLC. She has a broad background in general business litigation, employment litigation and dispute resolution, and is a certified specialist in labor and employment law, as well as a civil court mediator. Molly is active in the South Carolina Bar, having served as chairperson of the Employment and Labor Law Section. She is also an active member of the Tri-County Human Resources Management Association, having served on the board for a number of years, including as chair.
Molly recently completed her service as chair of the SC Employment and Labor Law Advisory Board, and, last year, she was named the 2016 Charleston “Lawyer of the Year” in Litigation – Labor and Employment.
Molly represents management in a variety of employment matters including discrimination law, disability law, employment contracts and non-competition covenants, employment torts, wage and hour litigation, harassment litigation and training. She is a frequent speaker for business and community organizations on these topics and others. Molly and several Nexsen Pruet attorneys host the Legal Grounds coffee breaks, bi-monthly meetings for members of the food and beverage industry in Nexsen Pruet’s Charleston office.
Nancy Cushman is the founder and owner integral in the concept and creation of the highly acclaimed restaurant group including o ya (Boston/New York), Hojoko Japanese Tavern (Boston), Covina and Roof at Park South (New York).
Prior to restaurants, Nancy has over a decade of experience in Brand Building and Marketing for Fortune 500 clients. Nancy spent over a decade in Account Management at top advertising agencies in the country including Leo Burnett, Arnold Worldwide and Hill Holliday, working on major national food clients, including Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Ocean Spray, Dunkin’ Donuts and Procter & Gamble. Following Account Management, Nancy spent a number of years in Human Resources from senior level management coaching to recruiting and training.
Nancy is also a certified Advanced Sake Professional and created and developed the sake program at o ya. Her passion for sake was sparked during her advertising career in Chicago. After her first sake experience, she became fascinated with it and made studying the beverage her mission. She left her career as an advertising executive and in 2006 and she completed the Sake Professional Course in Japan with John Gauntner, who is recognized as the world’s foremost sake expert. In Boston in March 2007, she opened o ya, a contemporary Japanese restaurant, with her husband Tim Cushman.
Within the past two years, Chef Tim and Nancy Cushman have expanded their restaurant group to New York City. In 2014, they opened Roof at Park South, a seasonal rooftop cocktail bar with uninterrupted views of the NYC skyline from the top floor of the Park South Hotel. In 2015, they opened a second o ya in Manhattan and a new Japanese Tavern called Hojoko in Boston’s Fenway Neighborhood. In 2016, the duo opened Covina, a new American restaurant with Mediterranean influence in New York.
o ya has received numerous awards, including being named by the New York Times’ Frank Bruni as the #1 new restaurant in the U.S. outside of New York and the top Zagat rated restaurant in Boston in 2012. In 2012, Nancy travelled back to Japan to complete the Advanced Sake Professional Course and is now one of less than 150 people in the world to have this certification. In 2013, Boston Magazine recognized o ya as having Best Service in the city. In 2014, Boston Magazine ranked o ya the #1 restaurant in Boston.
In October 2016, Chef Tim & Nancy were honored by the Japan Society of Boston for their efforts to encourage love of Japanese culture in the community. They also honored esteemd industry professionals such as Japanese chef Shinichiro Takagi from Japan and winemaker Kenzo Tsujimoto, from Napa.
Nancy is involved in other organizations outside of the restaurants she owns. She is on the Board of Advisors for the Restaurant Investment Group. RIG was formed to address two separate, but related, industry concerns: first, how do new chefs and restaurateurs access capital; and, second, how do young chefs opening chef-driven restaurants manage the risks inherent in the industry. Additionally, she is an active Senior Fellow at Food Sol, Babson’s Food Entrepreneurship program at The Lewis Institute. Uniquely, Food Sol resources and supports food entrepreneurs (from serial venture creators to eaters to everyone in between) wishing to take positive action for the food system.
Raised in Salem, Virginia, Nancy Selzer left the world of academic publishing for her true calling: the restaurant industry. Selzer began her long-standing relationship with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich when she was hired as a server at Babbo where she was part of the team that earned the restaurant its first three star review in The New York Times. Selzer was promoted to General Manager at Pó, Mario’s first restaurant, then returned to Babbo as Service Director. Selzer went on to help create the bustling Casa Mono and intimate Bar Jamón where her responsibilities included cultivating the acclaimed wine list, noted by Wine Spectator as one of the best in Manhattan. Selzer was an award-winning sommelier at the Copa de Jerez 2007 International Competition. In 2008, Nancy brought B&BHG to the suburbs as Managing Partner of Tarry Lodge in Port Chester. She has since overseen the Tarry Lodge expansion northward to Westport, then to New Haven. She lives with her husband and son in Brooklyn.
Pamela Lewy has over a decade of experience in food media and communications. After a short stint working for a voice-over talent agency, she was hired by Mario Batali to assist him in all things restaurants, philanthropy and media/pr (to name just a few). Now, as his Director of Communications, Pam has helped Batali grow a regional group of celebrated neighborhood restaurants into an international brand of restaurants, products and media. Pam holds a Bachelor’s Degree in communications from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master's Degree in Food Studies from New York University.
Rosanne Martino is the National Coordinator for ROC United’s COLORS Restaurants located in NYC, Detroit, and Washington, DC with plans to open restaurants in Oakland and New Orleans. Rosanne came to ROC after 21 years as General Manager and Controller at One if by Land, Two if by Sea one of the 50 most popular restaurants in NYC for the past forty years. Her first job was as a server in a restaurant when she was 16. She has also worked as a Business Manager in the fashion industry, for a film production company, and for non-profit businesses.
Sam Appel’s love affair with food began at a young age, when she played restaurant and her parents “ordered” from her handwritten menu. In high school, she took culinary classes and began cooking in earnest. From there, she worked as a line cook, pastry cook, and gained exposure to catering and cookbook writing. During college at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, she worked with Myriad Restaurant Group in Tribeca and landed at Avero, a restaurant analytics company. During her stint at Avero coaching, teaching, and advising restaurant owners on how to use data to better their businesses, she worked with some of the most successful and recognizable brands, including Union Square Hospitality Group, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, and more. Now, as Director of Community and Programming at Journee, a community for restaurant professionals that provides access to resources through classes, inspirational events, and guidance from industry veterans, Appel seeks out new educators to add to the docket of prominent restaurateurs, chefs, beverage experts, who can help Journee’s members fine-tune their skill sets and elevate their careers. Appel was also part of the founding committee of the Toklas Society, a nonprofit that fosters the professional development of women in the food and hospitality. When’s she not juggling duties between Journee and Toklas, you’ll find her with friends over a meal, doing yoga, or checking out New York’s latest restaurant and bar openings.
In her twelve-year tenure at Baltz & Company, Sarah Abell has worked with some of the industry's most beloved and acclaimed chefs, operators and restaurants including Red Rooster Harlem's Marcus Samuelsson; Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto; Bravo's Top Chef Judge Hugh Acheson; James Beard Foundation Award-winning Frasca Food and Wine; Pizzeria Locale Denver, the fast-casual concept from Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Chipotle Mexican Grill; Jonathan Waxman's Bajo Sexto Taco and Adele’s in Nashville, as well as his namesake restaurant debut in San Francisco; Mike Lata’s critically acclaimed FIG and The Ordinary in Charleston, SC; The Bon Vivants' Trick Dog bar in San Francisco; 21c Museum Hotels celebrated restaurants in Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati, Durham, Bentonville, Oklahoma City and more.
Additionally, Abell oversees the content development, talent procurement and programming for the American Express Restaurant Trade Program at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, as well as content development, talent procurement, programming and public relations for C3 Presents' Austin Food + Wine Festival, Chicago Food + Wine Festival, and Music City Food + Wine Festival.
Sarah Robbins, a founding partner of 21c Museum Hotels, oversees food and beverage operations and HR. A leader with an innate understanding of the art of gracious hospitality, Robbins draws on her experience in restaurant management and consulting and her time in the Army to lead people and process for the company. With direct oversight of food and beverage operations, she ensures the seamless relationship between each hotel and its restaurant.
An energetic advocate for 21c’s culture of YES, Robbins leads the company’s efforts in building 21c’s team and culture. Inspired by the company’s innovative approach to sharing contemporary art with the public, Robbins encouraged and empowered the 21c team to say ‘yes;’ first to each other and then to guests. This simple tweak transformed both the work culture and the guest experience. Prior to 21c, Robbins was a Project Director for Myriad Restaurant Group and managed New York’s Tribeca Grill. She is an active member of the James Beard Foundation and Southern Foodways Alliance and serves on the board of the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Susan currently leads the teams at Hill Country Barbecue Market, Hill Country Chicken and Hill Country Live in NY, Brooklyn and Washington DC, where she oversees food and beverage operations and HR. With 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, she’s worked in both Operations and Human Resources for industry leaders, including Marcus Samuelsson, Keith McNally, and Tom Colicchio. While building strong teams, and developing cognitive and concrete management tools, Susan believes people can learn anything if you care for them, and create healthy, inspiring work environments. A believer that the rules of compliance are a gateway to creative thinking rather than an unwelcome constraint, she helps navigate the challenges of running a healthy business while maintaining robust incentives for all staff. Her People Care philosophy is built on mentorship and collaborative work with front line employees, supporting their growth into management and strengthening company culture. Susan has worked with the Doe Fund and ComAlert, offering opportunity and mentorship to those reentering the workforce. She was a 2016 nominee for the NYC Hospitality Alliance Heart of the City Award, and was listed as one of the Top Women in Metro New York Foodservice & Hospitality for 2017. Inspired by the leadership and staff at Hill Country, Susan is proud to be working to feed and water its core values, ensuring that both employees and guests experience them every day.
Susan is also a 20-year veteran of the volunteer team for Centurion, the first innocence organization in the U.S. to free the innocent in prison and provide them with counseling and life skills coaching.
As Director of Operations with Sylvia Woods, Inc. and Sylvia’s Restaurant, Taniedra McFadden exemplifies the companies’ passion for hospitality, commitment to quality, and dedication to excellence. The broad business knowledge that Taniedra brings to every project provides the foundation for innovative solutions for projects in diverse industries. Taniedra’s experience includes 10 years in finance and litigation as well as six years in restaurant operations and foodservice consulting.
Taniedra’s career began at Berdon LLP, where over 10 years, she progressed from administrative assistant to event coordinator to senior financial analyst. She later used those tools to assist a range of clients through consulting projects providing business organization services, marketing services, human resources assistance, implementation of workflows, contract negotiations, and creation of procedures and business manuals. Currently, Taniedra oversees day-to-day operations of numerous Sylvia Woods, Inc. corporate entities as well as Sylvia’s Restaurant and helps them effectively deliver a consistent and authentic customer experience.
Taniedra holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Providence College and has studied Law at Suffolk University Law School and Public Administration at Walden University. She’s currently the Board Member of the New York State Restaurant Association and serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors of Sylvia Woods, Inc.